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City Bar Justice Center Summer Interns Reflect on their Most Rewarding Experiences

by CBJC Staff August 24, 2021

This summer, the City Bar Justice Center (CBJC) welcomed twelve enthusiastic undergraduate and law school students to our dynamic internship program. Working across our civil justice projects and administrative departments, our summer interns contributed significant work using their diverse skillsets and experiences, and through their shared commitment to furthering access to justice for New Yorkers in need. They provided support on essential program functions including conducting legal research, developing client resources, performing client intakes, case management, and community outreach.

We were thrilled to learn that our interns had a meaningful summer collaborating with our team. Many expressed that it helped reinforce their commitment to pursue a career centered on social justice by witnessing the positive impact their actions can have on our community, and especially for those facing systemic barriers. The following includes first-hand accounts from our summer interns on lessons learned and takeaways from their time at CBJC.

Ariana Ahmed, College Junior at Hunter College | Immigrant Justice Project Intern

“Despite being new to the legal scene, I quickly learned that there was a place for everyone at CBJC. As an undergraduate intern for the Immigrant Justice Project, I’ve worked closely with asylum seekers, improved my research and writing skills through case briefs, and even garnered a newfound interest in the public sector. My time at CBJC has allowed me to not only expand my options when it comes to a legal career, but to also experience the realities of having such a career and what it entails, allowing me to be better informed for the future.”

Cassandra Lagana, 2L at Brooklyn Law School

Federal Pro Se Legal Assistance Project Intern

“My time at CBJC was an amazing hands-on experience with legal services. I learned how to best communicate with clients, sharpened my research skills, and independently oversaw many matters. My co-interns were an incredible team, and our supervisor was there for us every step of the way.”

Grace Sullivan, 2L at Fordham University School of Law | Planning and Estates Law Project Intern

“The stories of PELP callers prompted me to consider (and research) a variety of interesting legal issues.  Expanding my understanding of legal challenges–and potential solutions–facing New Yorkers is exactly what I wanted from my summer internship!”

Lisa W. Cho, 2L at City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law | Veterans Assistance Project Intern

“I loved my experience at CBJC. This internship expanded my knowledge of social issues that need to be addressed. I had never worked on or conducted research on veterans’ law and with this internship, I got to explore the disability and pension process for veterans. This internship reminded me to always look at a case from an intersectionality lens because our clients are not only dealing with one issue but multiple ones that affect their lives.”

Meghana Gavirneni, College Junior at Cornell University | Legal Clinic for the Homeless and Administrative Intern

“My internship at the City Bar Justice Center, as part of the Legal Clinic for the Homeless and Administrative team, has been a wonderful experience. Over the course of the summer, I have been exposed to the inner workings of an organization dedicated to helping others and able to partake in such meaningful work myself. It has been incredibly rewarding to work alongside such a dedicated and supportive staff and witness the City Bar Justice Center’s impact firsthand. These experiences have provided me with valuable insight into the public interest legal sector which I will continue to carry with me.”

Meryl Menezes, MSW Graduate Student at Columbia University | Federal Pro Se Legal Assistance Project Intern

“My experience interning at CBJC was wonderful and enriching. At CBJC, I worked directly with clients and utilized my social work skills in a fast-paced legal environment, which improved my understanding of the law and gave me insight into the unique challenges that pro se litigants face. The most rewarding part of my internship was the fantastic supervision and support I received from my project director, as well as the close relationships I built with my co-interns. I also enjoyed collaborating with other project directors to help provide their clients with social work services, including housing and medical assistance.”

Mutaz Ali, 2L at American University Washington College of Law | Consumer Bankruptcy Project Intern

“Besides the knowledge I gained in bankruptcy law, working at CBJC provided me with

the opportunity to have an engaging summer experience. One of my favorite responsibilities was to conduct initial intake interviews with our clients. While I was conducting these intake interviews, I learned about the financial and psychological impact that filing for bankruptcy has on consumers. Ramona taught me that patience and empathy would go a long way with our clients. This is a lesson that I will carry with me throughout law school and my legal career.”

Nina Louise Haug, 3L at New York University School of Law | Federal Pro Se Legal Assistance Project Intern

“My experiences with pro se litigants this summer made me realize how much I enjoy working directly with clients. It taught me that while the law is limited in the types of resolutions it can provide, lawyers and law students can fight to ensure everyone has the rights and protections to which they’re legally entitled – all while providing people with additional resources and forms of closure. On a personal level, this internship taught me that frustration towards unfair, broken systems can help fuel this important work, but compassion for those harmed by systemic injustices can be an even greater motivator.”

Rawshan Mobin, 2L at Hofstra Law | Homeowner Stability Project Intern

“I found my experience at CBJC to be a rewarding one. I not only learned real property law, to a certain extent, but more importantly, I learned to go the distance on my own. I learned to think for myself and be independent when it came to handling responsibilities. For that, I am truly grateful and that is something that I know will benefit my personal growth and legal education in the long run. Additionally, I was fortunate enough to see the plight of clients. This allowed me to get involved and to essentially understand the significance of pro bono work.”

Sabrina Das, 2L at Fordham University School of Law | Cancer Advocacy & Elderlaw Projects Intern

“I had a great summer at CBJC, and I attribute that largely to the amount that I have learned and the people I have worked with. I learned about specific advanced directives, how they functioned and how they came to be. I also learned a great deal about the negative implications a cancer diagnosis can have on cancer patients and survivors in employment and financial contexts (through medical debt and insurance denials). During this internship, I was able to develop my client communication, legal research, and writing skills in monumental ways.”

Sarah Walsh, 2L at Fordham University School of Law | Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project Intern

“I really enjoyed my time with NELP. It is a unique program with an important mission. I found the client interviewing practice especially rewarding. At the start of the summer, I was very nervous about making client calls because it is a task that requires a lot of thought and sensitivity. By the end of my internship, I could handle client calls with ease and felt prepared to respond to questions and issues that came up during intakes. I really appreciate how much confidence I was able to gain in such an important area of law.”

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